Something I've learned this year from my concept artist friends, is not to be afraid to draw and draw and draw- and work things out in thumbnails first. I have always drawn thumbnails, but before this year, I felt like it was waisting my time if I didn't figure things out in the first or second thumbnail. Now I know that I'm waisting my time if I don't try out more options. It's so encouraging and empowering to know that you don't have to get it right the first time- in fact you shouldn't!
The fun thing (and maybe a very challenging thing) about making a picture book, especially if it is your own personal project, is that the illustrator has to put an entire production together. As the illustrator, you have to be the character designer, the background designer, the color designer, the painter and the director all rolled up into one. All this stuff takes a lot of people in a movie production. But with a picture book, it's all you. Once you send things off the the publisher, things are a little more collaborative, but still, it's a lot of work on the illustrators part.
It's a fun challenge to take on, and coming up with lots of ideas and thumbnails in the beginning stages will help your project be a lot more successful! It's like real house shopping. How do you know you have the right house unless you look at a bunch before you make your choice?